Sen. Joe Manchin and just about every Republican—probably every single one, once the counting is done—are opposed to investing $3.5 trillion over a decade in revitalizing U.S. infrastructure. But let’s be clear: with that, they’re opposed to creating jobs.
Here’s the Economic Policy Institute’s analysis of the jobs impact: “Combined, the [Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] and budget reconciliation package would provide fiscal support for more than 4 million jobs per year, on average, over the course of the 10-year budgeting window, through direct spending and increased indirect demand in related industries.”
But the combined number covers over the much larger impact of the reconciliation package: “On its own, the IIJA will provide fiscal support for 772,400 jobs per year, or 19% of the total jobs supported by the combined package. In comparison, the budget reconciliation is expected to support more than 3.2 million jobs per year, or 81% of the total jobs. The budget reconciliation’s outsize economic impact flows from its more significant financial commitment to public investments.”
Manufacturing would get 556,000 jobs.
Construction would get 312,000 jobs.
The reconciliation package’s investments in caregiving would mean 1.1 million jobs.
Investments in fighting climate change and protecting the environment would mean 763,000 jobs.
So tell us again, Joe, how slashing the plan to ribbons is being fiscally responsible.
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Wanting to negotiate, though, is not the same as opposing vaccinations or mandates. Instead, it’s about addressing important questions. Will there be paid sick leave to deal with side effects, for example? The Tyson-UFCW deal demonstrates the value of negotiation; workers won essential paid sick leave through the process.
And there are still many other questions that unions might ask on behalf of their members: Once workers are vaccinated, will all other coronavirus-related workplace safety measures be dropped? Many workers have unvaccinated children or immunocompromised family members at home (or they may be immunocompromised themselves). Vaccines are highly effective but not perfect, and vaccinated people do sometimes experience breakthrough infections. We know, for example, that masks prevent spread of the virus. Will employers continue to have mask mandates for workers in close quarters, or for customers? Will there be contact tracing if there is a positive case? Will employers continue to improve ventilation in buildings where people work? Will plans change as community infections evolve and as new variants emerge? And what happens when the next airborne virus emerges? Trying to ensure ongoing workplace safety — during this ongoing pandemic and as we prepare for whatever comes next — doesn’t signify intransigent opposition.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.